Executive announces major steps forward on mother and baby institutions and Magdalene Laundries

Date published: 15 November 2021

An integrated truth investigation, including a statutory public inquiry, is among the major steps forward on mother and baby institutions and Magdalene Laundries announced by the Executive today.

Ministers have agreed all recommendations in the Truth Recovery Design Panel’s report, which focus on delivering truth, acknowledgement and accountability for victims and survivors.

Ministers paid tribute to the Panel, and all the victims and survivors who worked alongside them to develop the report and co-design the recommendations.

The recommendations, which have been agreed by the Executive, include:

  • the establishment of an integrated truth investigation made up of an expert Independent Panel and a Public Inquiry;
  • a redress and reparation package; and
  • measures to secure access to relevant records, such as the introduction of a statutory duty to compel the relevant institutions, adoption-related bodies and baby homes, to preserve and not destroy relevant records.

First Minister Paul Givan said:

“This is an important day for victims and survivors of mother and baby institutions and Magdalene Laundries.

“The experiences of women and girls in these institutions, and what has happened to them and their children in the years since, is deeply troubling. The testimony of victims and survivors exposes appalling treatment as well as the deep pain and trauma that has been caused by these shameful practices.

“I hope that victims and survivors will take some comfort from the Executive’s commitment to deliver all the Panel’s recommendations, as well as our shared determination to uncover the full truth and ensure those affected get the acknowledgement and redress they deserve.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

“This is a defining moment for victims and survivors of mother and  baby institutions and Magdalene Laundries, who are now one step closer to getting the truth that has been denied to them for decades.

“Our thoughts are very much with all the victims and survivors, who were so grievously failed, and have lived for many years with the unimaginable pain and trauma inflicted on them. Their needs are our absolute priority and they should not have to wait any longer to see action. Our attention must turn now to progress the implementation of all recommendations as quickly as possible.

“Work will begin immediately on establishing a consultative forum, undertaking groundwork on the necessary legislation for the inquiry and financial redress, and the preservation of records.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said:

“The Truth Recovery Design Panel was established and commissioned to work with victims-survivors to chart a way forward.  This was in response to some of the most horrendous and truly shameful historical events in Northern Ireland, involving women and children, who had a right to expect so much more from state, churches and society as a whole. 

“I sincerely thank the Panel, Deirdre Mahon, Phil Scraton and Maeve O’Rourke and the victims-survivors who worked diligently and thoughtfully alongside them.

“We are now about to enter the next phase of work and the Department of Health stands ready to fully play its part in the next steps collectively agreed by the Executive. There are a number of recommendations for us to take forward and we will implement them without delay and continue to engage victims-survivors as we do.”

The implementation of the recommendations will involve a number of different departments and public bodies. The programme of work will be led by The Executive Office.

Notes to editors: 

A copy of the deputy First Minister’s full statement to the Assembly on the way forward is available at: https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/news/statement-assembly-executive-decisions-mother-and-baby-institutions-magdalene-laundries-and

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